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Speeding Up Cases Prejudices Homeowners


Imagine that the government was concerned that there were too many criminals on the streets, or that the criminal justice system was just moving too slow. In response, the government orders courts to start putting more people in jail, and to generally manage court case loads in a  way that helps the State get the convictions that they need.

This would probably strike many of us as inherently unfair, and a violation of the sanctity of our constitution and our court system. However, this is exactly what happened, and what continues to happen, in courthouses every day as courts continue to struggle with the problem of having more foreclosure cases than they can manage.

Speed Hurts Homeowners

In an ordinary case—say, for example, a divorce—handling cases quickly may not be the best way to make sure that justice is served, but it does not inherently prejudice any one party. Moving a case faster doesn’t prejudice a husband or a wife. No matter who wins, the docket is clear, and the case is done with (at least in the short term).

However, when governments tell courts to move foreclosure cases faster, and to clear foreclosure dockets faster, this inherently prejudices homeowners. Unlike with many cases, where the speed of a case doesn’t necessarily favor one side or another, in a foreclosure case, speed and the necessity to close cases always favors banks.

Why Speed Favors Banks

Speed and the necessity to close cases means homeowner’s motions and arguments tend to be dismissed easier. Defenses asserted by the homeowner end up being seen as a nuisance that delays a judgment, as opposed to being considered on their merits. It means that the homeowner may be rushed to trial so fast that he or she has no time to get the evidence needed to defend the case.

When judges rule for homeowners, the case is not necessarily over, and if it is, the bank has the option to refile the case. Because a court ruling for a homeowner doesn’t end a case, it doesn’t help courts clear their dockets. However, a quick judgment for the bank results in the sale of the property, which does, conclusively, end the case.

National Mortgage Settlement

In 2012, the Attorneys general of 49 states entered into a settlement agreement with the major banks, requiring the banks to pay billions of dollars. That sounded like a win for homeowners. However, much of the money was given to clerks of Florida courts, to help them speed up cases.

The money was used to hire temporary or retired judges, and to establish “rocket dockets,” which scheduled hundreds of cases in the same day, leaving little time for courts to consider homeowner defenses.

Many of these retired judges and rocket dockets are still used today. Just remember that when the media talks about rushing cases through the courts, that strategy is always a win for banks.

Get help with your foreclosure case. Contact Jacobs Legal to speak with one of our Miami consumer rights attorneys today.


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